SIX GREAT PRODUCTS TO HELP YOU COPE WITH THE FESTIVE ACTIVITIES…

Christmas is nearly upon us and many chronic pain sufferers will struggle to get out during and after the festive period. Apart from the buying of presents, there are lots of other activities that come about at this time of year. For instance, the nativity play, the Christmas party, the family get together and the list goes on.

The simple act of sitting down on something that is not suitable for say a person with a back problem could actually create more pain for them. So, I’ve looked into portable outdoor seat/supports/cushions just for this reason. My top choice would be –

Highlander Folding Outdoor Sit Mat Lightweight Padded Portable Stadium Seat which is constructed from High-Density foam and a hard-wearing durable Polyester. It’s LIGHTWEIGHT, COMPACT AND PORTABLE: Weighing only 380g and measuring 40x40x4cm when folded and will offer comfort and support use after use. This one I found was available on Amazon and is £13.99

The Back Booster helps support the lower back, helps relax lower back muscles and is very lightweight and portable, nylon carry bag included. It inflates in a few breaths and deflates to pocket size and is £14.99 available from The Back Booster.

A coccyx cushion of which there are quite a few about. I cannot live without mine and have them in every car and upstairs in my stud. Whenever we go away take one with me and use it when I go to the cinema. I would honestly be quite miserable without mine so here’s a couple to choose from. The Drive Coccyx Cushion which is on Amazon at the moment for £9.95 This fully portable, uniquely designed cushion can help relieve that pressure and may help to prevent back pain by suspending your coccyx over the cutout section.

Or The Sciatica Relief Cushion which performs just like its name and is well worth the investment of £31.50 The Sciatic Pain Relief Cushion is a class 1 medical device designed to alleviate the pressure on the sciatic nerve while sitting allowing the nerve space and time to heal. By placing the cushion on your seat every time you sit you are able to stretch your sciatic nerve whilst reducing the increased pressure the nerve experiences during sitting. This cushion is specifically designed for people who have sciatica pain symptoms that are aggravated or exacerbated while sitting or seated. It is easy to use, safe and specifically designed for sciatica pain relief.

I would also add this Adjustable Tripod Walking Stick and seat as if like me you cannot even stand for long in a queue then this is just perfect. The Height adjustable walking stick seat is designed to provide support and comfort and provides a stable and comfortable seated position when you need a break from standing. This particular one is from Amazon for £25 but there are also a number of them on Complete Care Shop website. 

Finally the Memory Foam Contour Travel Cushion from Complete Care Shop which is ergonomically designed, and provides excellent levels of comfort to the user and is ideal when travelling. It is suitable for long train, plane or car journeys and is of a lightweight, compact nature making it tremendously portable. Made from high-quality memory foam, it helps to alleviate pressure and tension and will not lose its shape. This black Memory Foam Contour Travel Cushion is supplied with a removable velour cover and costs £8.89

Memory Foam Contour Travel Cushion

TOP TIPS ON HOW TO MANAGE ARTHRITIS PAIN…

5 top tips on how to manage arthritis from your home from consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Faisal Hussain from BMI The Priory and BMI The Edgbaston hospitals.

Mr Hussain explains that ‘more than 10 million people in the UK are living with arthritis.‘ His five top tips to improve your health and quality of life, allowing you to live better with arthritis are :

1. Keep Active

2. Get a good night’s sleep

3. Look after your mental well-being

4. Eat for health

5. Maintain a healthy weight

For a more detailed description of how to manage the above tips go to the BMI website here.

Everyday Health say some lifestyle changes can help you manage pain and they include the same tips as above but also say Get vitamin C. Studies have shown that vitamin C may be helpful in managing inflammation in the body. So dig into an orange or pour yourself a glass of grapefruit juice each day.

They also say Avoid alcohol. Don’t medicate yourself with alcohol to manage pain; it will only create more problems, and add calories to your diet.

Healthline suggest trying hot and cold therapy (details on this on their website), try acupuncture or meditation and include the right fatty acids for your diet. Everyone needs omega-3 fatty acids in their diet for optimum health. These fats also help your arthritis. Fish oil supplements, which are high in omega-3s, have been shown to reduce joint stiffness and pain. Also try adding turmeric to your recipes.

Another tip is to get a massage. According to the Arthritis Foundation, regular massaging of arthritic joints can help reduce pain and stiffness and improve your range of motion. Work with a physical therapist to learn self-massage, or schedule appointments with a massage therapist regularly.

SUCCESS RATES OF AN EPIDURAL STEROID OR FACET JOINT INJECTIONS FOR BACK PAIN?…

With so many different types of spinal injections available for back pain I decided to do a bit of research on epidurals for back pain and what I had for my cervical pain back in March this year.

I was told at the time that the way I had this injection (which was through the front of my neck ) was highly dangerous and that not many pain consultants ( including mine) would perform this procedure. All the way through the procedure the consultant ( another one I had been referred to who specialised in this type of injection )kept saying I must not move one fraction of an inch but instead to shout stop whenever I started to feel it too uncomfortable.

Right from when start when the injection went in I instinctively moved slightly because of the discomfort and the consultant was quite strong in his words to remind me to say stop or he may have to stop the whole procedure.

Slowly but surely after numerous stops I was given a fair dose of the steroid to help with my pain. I then had strict instructions on how I might feel afterwards and if I felt differently to phone directly to speak to him.

I can honestly say it wasn’t the most pleasant or procedures but I’m always of the opinion of no pain no gain with these type as of procedures. Fortunately I had no after affects and after about three weeks ( I was told it could take that long) the pain relief kicked in and my neck and arm pain disappeared for the first time in years.

When I asked the consultant how many of this particular type of injection I could have in a year he said he would not recommend ever having another as it is so dangerous.

The pain relief lasted four amazing months !

Spine Health wrote that while the effects of an epidural steroid injection tend to be temporary (lasting from a week to up to a year) an epidural steroid injection can deliver substantial benefits for many patients experiencing low back pain.

  • Recent research reports that lumbar epidural steroid injections are successful in patients with persistent sciatica from lumbar disc herniation, with more than 80% of the injected group with disc herniation experiencing relief (in contrast to 48% of the group that received a saline placebo injection).
  • Similarly, in a study focused on a group of patients with lumbar spinal stenosis and related sciatica symptoms, 75% of patients receiving injections had more than 50% of pain reduction one year following the injections. The majority also increased their walking duration and tolerance for standing.

So, I could see from this information that it seems to be ok for lumber pain but there is no mention of it for cervical pain.

An article in The Daily Mail said that tens of thousands of patients are being given a ‘useless’ back-pain injection, which costs the NHS nearly £40 million every year, an analysis suggests.

Patients that demand a ‘quick fix’ for their discomfort are being given the treatment, priced at £540 per procedure, despite doctors being told to recommend back-pain sufferers be more active or try psychological therapy.

According to an analysis of NHS data by The Times, 70,608 steroid injections into patients’ facet joints, which make spines flexible, occurred last year, compared to 62,570 five years ago.

Guidelines released in both 2009 and 2016 advise against the procedure. 

Figures also show 8,044 operations that fuse spinal bones together were carried out last year, up from 7,224 between 2012 and 2013. 

Spinal Healthcare point out that Epidural steroid injections are actually very safe, since they are simply an injection that contains both local anaesthetic and steroids. In effect these reduce the inflammation that is causing pain in the nerves and the disc in the spin and the local anaesthetic numbs the area, bringing short term numbness to the region. By the time the local anaesthetic wears off the steroid will be working to reduce inflammation.

However there are some risks with the procedure, but these need to be looked at in context. Almost every human activity carries some risk with it. For example, crossing the road, lifting heavy objects, even opening a tin of beans all carry risks. Yet we do them every day, simply because they are necessary to human function.

Reading through lots more posts on epidurals I have come to the conclusion that like anything in life one size does not fit all of us and for some this treatment gives great relief and for others none whatsoever. There is definitely a problem with the cost of this type of injection as you require x ray staff and others to proceed with it. My facet joint injections which were also done in X-ray were cut a couple of years ago due to funding.

I can quite understand the cuts as the NHS is under so much pressure but I think it would make sense to have a team of people who simply follow up your pain relief after the injection to monitor if it was worth doing or not. That way the ones who benefit could continue having them and and the ones that don’t could try something else.

As far as the safety of this type of injection, I guess any injection into your spine carries risks but that could apply to any type of procedure. However, having it for cervical pain is something I could not find so it makes me think that maybe the one I had was a one off that worked for a while but now it’s back to square one again.

 
 
 

TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID COMMON CAUSES OF BACK PAIN…

So many things can cause you back pain, in fact far to many to list but I found a few tips on how to avoid the most common causes of back pain.

Standing incorrectly I suppose is an obvious one but they say that if you can avoid leaning while standing (against a wall or similar) and do not stand on one leg as this can create muscle imbalances.

Sitting incorrectly while driving can soon cause back pain, they suggest that you should raise your seat up until your hips are level with your knees. Raise it higher if you can’t see clearly out the windshield or windows. Don’t drive with your hips lower than your knees. If your car doesn’t have a control to adjust the seat height, then sit on a cushion to help keep your hips level with your knees. I have a coccyx cushion in my car and my husbands car and could not last a journey without one.

For women they say your bra is very important, which is something I have written a little bit about before. Apparently London’s Royal Free Hospital says that 100% of women who want a breast reduction is because they are suffering from back pain and most of them were found to be wearing the wrong sized bra. I think its easier now as most department stores have fully trained staff to measure you properly.

Sitting at your computer is a very important one. They say its because you have to lean forward or stretch out with your arms, both of which can cause back ache. To stop this happening they recommend that you set your keyboard so you rest your arms on the desk to use it, and your screen so that your head is straight when you look at it. My son bought me a special ergonomic key board and computer mouse for when I sit at my desk and worked out the correct height for my laptop which sits on some books and I do feel I can sit a little longer now that is right.

They also say sitting too much can cause back pain as apparently when you sit down, the load going through your discs is increased threefold so they recommend that you move regularly, ideally every 20 minutes. Well I’m afraid I do sit most of the time but my legs are always horizontal ( not sure if that helps) but as I do get uncomfortable often I do have to move around quite a bit so hopefully at least I am doing that right.

Low vitamin D levels was quite a shock for me as I haven’t once been told to take any form of supplement for my back. They say it is because deficiencies in the sunshine vitamin D are now strongly linked to back pain which they say is because insufficient vitamin D makes surfaces on your spine soft and spongy, which then irritates the nerves. Their top tip is to take a supplement of vitamin D.

One for the girls ( and some boys) they say high heels causes back pain due to the way they tilt your pelvis forward, they suggest alternate heel heights so no need to throw all those beautiful heels away, just don’t wear them all the time.

Some of the most obvious things to avoid as they can cause back pain are:

  • Lifting incorrectly
  • Overstretching during lifting, bending or twisting
  • Bad posture
  • Poor sleeping position or a sagging mattress
  • Lack of exercise

With increased risk factors of back pain being:

  • Being overweight
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking